In addition to going to an in-state school or getting your degree early, another way to save money on college may be to study abroad for a semester or year, depending on the program. The key is to head to a country where higher education is cheap or free, even for noncitizens.
Norway, for instance, doesn't charge anyone tuition. Many other European countries assess visiting international students only nominal fees, typically under $1,000 per semester, at their public universities.
You can also save more than $25,000 a year in some cases if you enroll directly rather than using a study abroad company. But there are a few caveats: You usually need to know the language of the country where you'll be studying, and you need to ensure that your home institution will grant credit for courses you complete abroad.
Studying in Germany was free for everyone, regardless of nationality, until a few years ago, but it remains a bargain in 2012 at about 500 euros (roughly $600 USD) per semester. And even if you don't directly enroll in a German university, some U.S. colleges have exchange programs to Germany that offer significant savings over staying at home.
Amherst College students, for example, can spend a year at Göttingen University and pay only $21,085, half the usual two-semester tuition they would have paid had they not gone abroad.
If you want to see a lot of the world without having to know a foreign language, Eastern Michigan University offers a summer option open to EMU and non-EMU students alike that involves travel to 10 countries, from England and France to Greece and Turkey, over 70 days.
The program grants students up to 12 credits for completing four classes (two in history, two in art history) along the way. All participants pay in-state tuition, about $3,600 for nearly a semester's worth of credit, plus roughly $12,000 to $13,000 for transportation and housing.
[Learn other ways to cut college costs.]
For those wishing to study abroad in an English-speaking country, New Zealand and South Africa may be the best bets. A semester of classes at the University of Auckland, New Zealand's highest-ranked university, costs $11,900 NZD ($9,600 USD) for foreigners.
At the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, international students pay a surcharge of $5,100 per semester on top of the standard tuition, but tuition itself is only about $2,000 to $3,000 per semester, depending on the course of study.
There are also numerous scholarships available to U.S. students who want to spend a semester or year abroad, typically in regions of strategic interest to the federal government like Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Boren Scholarships give students $10,000 for a semester, or $20,000 for an academic year, to study in countries critical to U.S. national security.
[Find other scholarships for study abroad.]
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, available to undergraduates receiving federal Pell grants, provides up to $8,000 for students to study "critical need" languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Swahili, while abroad.
Justin Snider is an advising dean at Columbia University, where he also teaches undergraduate writing. This article was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education news outlet affiliated with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, based at Columbia's Teachers College.